Benfica edge Juve, Sevilla sink Valencia
© AFP

Brazilian striker Lima struck a wonder goal with six minutes remaining as Benfica edged Juventus 2-1 in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League semi-final.

After Carlos Tevez tucked away a brilliant equaliser for the Italian Serie A leaders with 17 minutes remaining at the Estadio do Luz, Lima smashed home an unstoppable drive to give the Lisbon outfit a precious advantage heading back to Italy next week. Juventus must now score at home to keep their bid on track to reach the final at their home stadium on 14 May.

In the second semi-final, Sevilla struck twice in three first-half minutes to sink Valencia 2-0 and take a tight grip on their bid to win a third Europa League after victories in 2006 and 2007.

Benfica grabbed the early goal after just three minutes when they forced a corner down the left. The ball was swung into the heart of the box and Argentinian central defender Ezequiel Garay was quickest to react holding off his marker to plant a sharp header past the despairing grasp of Juve's veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. It was the former Real Madrid player's first European goal of the season.

The match continued at breakneck speed throughout the opening 45 minutes with former Manchester City striker Tevez and Frenchman Paul Pogba taunting the home defence who refused to buckle. Jorge Jesus's well-organised Benfica unit also threatened to increase their advantage and a series of counter attacks led to a clean chance that Serbian international Lazar Markovic failed to convert just before the break.

The second half was equally rich in entertainment with the Portuguese, who were beaten finalists last year against Chelsea, ready to soak up the Italian pressure and then strike on the break. But it was Argentinian veteran Tevez who grabbed the all-important away goal for the Italians. A mazy run inside the box allowed the 30-year-old space to slip the ball under Artur's flailing legs.

Then with time running out, Lima fired home his thunderbolt to put the Portuguese side back in charge and set up a tantalising second leg next Thursday at the Juventus Stadium.